In keeping with trying to watch as many Wheeling Nailers games I can this season and keep tabs on the ECHL affiliate, I was able to take in the Wheeling Nailers taking on the Florida Everblades in Estero, Florida Wednesday night. The Nailers are there for three straight games this week. Florida leads the ECHL South Division and the Eastern Conference with a record of 11-4.
Someone forgot to tell the Nailers. They beat the Everblades 6-5 in a high scoring affair.
Franky Palazzese opposed Anthony Peters. The Everblades are an affiliate of the Carolina Hurricanes / Charlotte Checkers.
The Nailers jumped out to a 3-0 lead just 4:17 into the game.
– John McCarron got the party started at 1:41 with a nice wrist shot from the top of the right circle through Everblades defenseman Corey Syvret’s legs that handcuffed Peters.
– Harrison Ruopp scored his first professional goal from the point with lots of bodies in front and it was 2-0 Nailers at 3:02.
– Florida tried to energize themselves after the face-off so Rob Florentino fought Shane Bakker. It didn’t work. Bakker pummeled Florentino with punches and pulled his jersey over his head before being separated by the linesmen.
– Jarrett Burton scored to make it 3-0 Nailers and the rout was on. Or was it?
Florida came into the game with a +29 goal differential. With their 3.73 goals scored per game, good for second in the ECHL in offense, no lead is safe.
Two Everblades goals in the span of :52 to cut the Nailers lead to 3-2 late in the first. Gabriel Desjardins scored from in close then defenseman Matt Stanisz scored his first goal of the year after a desperate clearing attempt by Wheeling found his stick and he wasted no time in wristing home a shot that cut it to one heading into the second period.
It only took Wheeling 4:08 to score three more goals in the second period.
Zack Torquato scored at :53 and the two goal lead was re-established for the Nailers. Nice wrist shot that beat Peters. I had the sense that the Nailers wanted to get the first goal in the period because of the high octane offense of the Everblades.
Nailers scored on a power play when John McCarron caused a turnover and made it 5-2. This was the first time all season that Florida had given up five goals.
:16 later, Ty Loney found himself alone on a breakaway somehow and it was 6-2 Nailers.
Ethan Werek scored for the Everblades and it was a 6-3 game. Too much time and too much space for Werek there. Nine goals scored before the game had reached the halfway point, 6:39 to be exact.
Florentino drilled Zack Torquato with a hit and fought Clark Seymour. It was Florentino’s second fight of the night and he lost both of them. Seymour one punched him.
In case you were wondering there is no, ‘two fights and you are done’ rule in the ECHL like there is in the AHL.
Wheeling killed off a total of 1:52 of two separate 5-on-3’s on Florida’s top power play unit late in the second period.
Brant Harris scored the first of his two goals in the period for the Nailers on a play that looked offsides. About 12 minutes later, he scored on a power play when Palazzese tried to cover a rebound but Harris chipped it over him.
Florida had a lot of chances and created a lot of rushes. Florida outshot Wheeling 14-5 in the period but Palazzese stood tall in net.
Three stars were Ethan Werek with a goal and an assist, Brant Harris with two goals and John McCarron with two goal in that order.
No one else in the Nailers division, the North, played tonight. The Nailers lead the division with 15 points followed by Kalamazoo with 13, Toledo with 12 and Brampton with 11.
The Nailers rematch against the Everblades on Friday.